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Last updated on March 26th, 2021
If you have an area in your garden that is prone to shade, you may feel somewhat limited in terms of what you can grow. As you walk through your Nursery or garden store you might see tags indicative of full sunlight flowers and yet if you have a garden with a roof over the porch and you still want something stunning in pots around your outdoor seating area, or you simply have an area in your garden that is shaded most of the day because of the position of large trees, nearby sheds, or anything else, rest assured there are options.
Finding plants for shade is not nearly as hard as you think as long as you know where to look. Below are 10 inspiring perennials for shade gardens that will add pizzazz and colour to any garden.
Below are are favourite plants for shade
Heuchera (Coral bells)
Coral Bells provide traditional foliage with smaller, bell-shaped flowers. this Evergreen perennial will reach a full size of 30cm at maturity and does well in partial shade. During the Spring and Summer, you can stand back and admire the varieties of pink, coral, red, and white flowers that grow out of the green leaves some of which get tinged with different shades of lime green, gold, and red.
Alchemilla (Lady’s mantle)
For a bit of whimsical Cottage charm, lady’s mantle is a beautiful perennial that is very low maintenance and blends effectively with other plants that also love the shade. It is best to combine this plant with something else that blooms around the same time so that you can enjoy the contrast provided by different shades of flowers once lady’s mantle has finished blooming.
Once it reaches maturity it will spend approximately 1/2 meter in spread and height. It produces yellow blooms between June and September and will naturally produce clumps which can spread or be divided and used to multiply the number of plants you have around your garden.
This particular plant will fare just fine in shaded areas but appreciates a bit of afternoon sun if possible. It is tolerant of most soils including rocky or sandy soils. A very low-maintenance plant at full maturity it will reach a height of 1/2 meter and a spread of 1 m.
Between April and June, you can enjoy beautiful yellow flowers that cover the matted green leaves each of which are tinged with purple underneath. The leaves maintain their green shades throughout summer and take on more purple and burgundy tones in the Autumn bringing your garden a plethora of excitement all year round.
This flower will thrive well in shaded areas and can tolerate slightly acidic to neutral soil. In spring and summer you can sit back and enjoy not only the butterflies that are attracted to the flowers but the beautiful clusters of vibrant pink, red, or white flowers atop the fern-like foliage. The clusters of flowers can span between 30cm and 75cm in size with the height reaching between 30cm and 1 meter depending on the variety. Similarly to other plants on this list, this one will spread very quickly and will form natural clumps which you can split apart if you want to enjoy multiple plants.
Small but strong, these plants have a sweet scent and produce adorable white flowers on long stems that are held upright. A tuberous perennial, the leaves take on a heart shape with a smattering of lime green decorations inside the hunter green leaves. The flowers come in shades of white, red, or pink. These are incredibly popular house plants to have during the winter holidays but you can grow them outside in the partial shade and they will produce their flowers between fall and winter offsetting other plants that may have reached their flowering peak at the end of summer.
Colloquially called the Willow Bell, this perennial reaches heights up to 100cm and spreads up to 50cm. Partial to shade, this low maintenance plant will give you whimsical blooms between June and July that are white to blue in colour. They prefer cooler summer climates and appreciate afternoon shade. You can deadhead the flowers to encourage a second round of blooms throughout the flowering season. The bell-shaped flowers can span up to 10cm and open outward adding a delightful splash of invitation to your garden.
Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’
Many people know this plant as Mondo Grass. It is a perennial that does very well in partial shade. It grows in rich, fertile soil that is well draining. It prefers moist soil but not overly watered. The foliage on this plant is evergreen and between July and August, the dark evergreen foliage is juxtaposed by the light pink flowers. It is great when used as a ground cover because of the grass like design the perennial assumes. It will slowly grow in clumps and spread outward if left to his own devices. The flowers take on a light shade and are bell-shaped growing in racemes on top of the stems that rise from the foliage clumps.
Commonly referred to as the sensitive Fern, this is a non-flowering fern that thrives in shaded, wet areas. It is very tolerant of clay soil, wet soil, and heavy shade. Some of the other inspiring plants on this list mites survive perfectly fine in shade but the floriferous qualities are reduced contingent with sun exposure. With this particular Fern that is not the case. While it doesn’t have flowers it can still reach a spread and height up to 50-100cm and has bright green fronds. Easy to maintain, it is not prone to disease or pests.
Athyrium niponicum var. Pictum
The Japanese painted fern is a non-flowering Fern that will thrive in partial sunlight and shade. If you have rabbits in your area this particular Fern is very tolerant. Moreover, it is low maintenance. As long as you grow it in organically rich well-drained soil it will thrive. This deciduous fern will grow triangular, variegated fronds that span up to 50 centimetres. In its full maturity, it will spread up to 75cm and 50cm tall.
Known as the elephant’s ears, this Evergreen perennial produces round green leaves that have a leathery texture to them complemented by clusters of bell-shaped flowers available in white or pink. They will reach their ultimate size in approximately three years at which point they will span up 2.5 meters in height and 5 meter spread. During the Autumn, spring, summer, and winter you can enjoy green foliage and during the Spring you can enjoy red stems with white or pink flowers. In Winter you can still enjoy red foliage as the leaves start to change colour.